Monday, 16 January 2017

Welcome to Welcome to Liverpool

I have lived in Liverpool all my life. I was born here, went to school and University here and have never lived or worked anywhere else. The furthest I have ever moved home is from Old Swan to Crosby in 1985 – about 6 miles. Although I have travelled a lot over the years, I never had any inclination to live or work anywhere else. Liverpool is in my psyche, my bones my DNA and anything else you might think of!

I have also been fortunate to live here during some momentous times. I was 7 years old when everyone was talking about this local band that was taking the city by storm. Within a year they had taken over the world. It is hard to overstate the influence that the Beatles had on anyone growing in the 1960s. It was as if their greatness was ours. Most people of my age have a Beatles related story. I lived in the same street as Paul McCartney. I never actually lived in Sunbury Road, Anfield at the same time as him but I have lived off that piece of trivia for years.

One of my friends, who is a few years older than me proudly talks of the day he spoke to John Lennon at the Cavern. In fact he was standing in the doorway blocking the entrance. Lennon told him to f**k off out of the way!

It was as if we all had a stake in them and the Merseybeat scene. The first time the Searchers appeared on Top of the Pops my dad immediately recognised Tony Jackson as someone he knew from work. A less well known band called the Mojos parked their van a couple of roads from ours.

Then there was 1966 and all that. Everton FC had just won the FA Cup in one of the greatest finals of all time. Liverpool FC were champions. Goodison Park hosted more World Cup games than any outside Wembley. We welcomed Pele and Eusebio at the same time. A few weeks after this my lifetime hero Alan Ball arrived at Everton.

As kids we were oblivious to the less glamorous decline of Liverpool as a city.

By the time I began working as a lawyer, that decline was clear for all to see. Liverpool had some of the worst housing the country. Unemployment was worsening by the day. Riots destroyed large parts of Toxteth.

Local politics were a shambles, culminating in the Militant years and the expulsion of 47 Labour councillors. All of this was brilliantly illustrated in Alan Bleasedale’s unforgettable Boys from the Blackstuff which is still remarkably powerful even today. In one scene George Malone looks out across a derelict and empty Albert Dock and says that he cannot believe that there is no hope. How right he was.

If those days in the 80s were the low point then the transformation since then has been nothing but remarkable. The catalyst was in fact a Conservative Minister Michael Heseltine who became known as the Minister for Merseyside. He galvanised local politicians and businesses. I was at Liverpool Town Hall in 2012 when he was awarded the Freedom of the City. Derelict docklands were brought to life. A garden festival was created. The entire Liverpool Waterfront was transformed and is now a World Heritage Site.

Where we are today is the point of this blog.

It is a shameless celebration of the greatest city in the world. We will look at places of interest, cultural events, famous liverpudlians and history. In fact we will cover anything although I will try to avoid football as I am too much of a bigoted Evertonian to give fair coverage to another local team. And we won’t cover regular news stories for which Good News Liverpool is always good value!

I hope that it will become a useful resource for anyone planning a visit or just a chance for locals to bask in the glory. I will, as far as possible only use my own photographs more of which can be seen on Instagram.

Today is the 60th birthday of the Cavern Club which is probably the world's most celebrated music venue. The day was celebrated by the unveiling of a statue to former cloakroom girl - Cilla Black!

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